Monday, January 17, 2022

Biden and Putin schedule video call amid fears of Ukraine invasion

US president Joe Biden will speak with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Tuesday by video call, spokespersons for both sides have confirmed.

“The conversation will indeed take place on Tuesday,” Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov told Reuters. “Bilateral relations, of course Ukraine and the realisation of the agreements reached in Geneva are the main (items) on the agenda.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the plan as well.

“President Joseph R Biden, Jr will hold a secure video call with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on Tuesday, December 7, 2021,” Ms Psaki said in a statement. “President Biden will underscore US concerns with Russian military activities on the border with Ukraine and reaffirm the United States’ support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

The call comes at a moment of high tension, as a Russian military buildup near Ukraine has alarmed US officials. According to Ukraine’s defence minister, about 94,300 Russian troops have amassed along the country’s border, possibly in preparation for an invasion.

“Our intelligence analyses all scenarios, including the worst,” Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Friday. “It notes that the likelihood of a large-scale escalation from Russia exists. The most likely time to reach readiness for an escalation will be the end of January.”

On Friday, President Biden told reporters he was working on deterring any potential invasion.

“What I am doing is putting together what I believe to be, will be, the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do,” Mr Biden said.

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“We’re aware of Russia’s actions for a long time and my expectation is we’re going to have a long discussion with Putin,” he added. “I don’t accept anybody’s red lines.”

Later that day, Ms Psaki expanded somewhat on the president’s comments.

“We want to make sure that we are prepared,” Ms Psaki said. “We know what President Putin has done in the past. We see that he is putting in place the capacity to take action in short order. And should he decide to invade, that is why we want to be prepared.”

On Saturday, Ms Psaki said the two presidents would also discuss other issues in their video call.

“The leaders will discuss a range of topics in the US-Russia relationship, including strategic stability, cyber, and regional issues,” she said.


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